Something I haven’t shared before on this blog is that, for the last four years, I’ve spent around a month a year medical volunteering as a doctor in Cambodia.
It was a lifelong dream of mine to work as a volunteer doctor in a developing country. It’s been an amazing experience and I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity.
Here are some of the things I’ve done
– Provided lice treatment and other basic treatments inside Cambodian prisons.
– Taught class at Cambodian medical school.
– Run medical clinics in slums around Phnom Penh
– Taught first aid to the carers at an HIV orphanage.
– Provided help for individuals. For example, this year I am organizing a treatment plan for a young man who lost his sight 18 months ago due to an infection and has since been confined to bed with almost no help. He has 15cm bedsores and has lost the ability to walk because he has been lying in bed for so long (sometimes in his own excrement).
– Getting other Doctors in New Zealand (specialists) to provide an opinion on specific cases (e.g., tumors) by Skype, photos etc.
– I sponsor a Cambodia medical student (I pay her medical school fees and living expenses). When I’m in Cambodia, we run the slum clinics together.
Life lesson from medical volunteering – I get back more than I give.
My experiences of medical volunteering have given me:
– A sense of purpose in life.
– Gratitude for my opportunities and privileges.
– Greater confidence in my own skills to adapt to the limited resources available.
– Some wonderful friendships and relationships e.g., my student and I Skype each other regularly.